When it comes to burgers I am a snob. I do not put things inside my burgers. If you put things like salt, pepper, bread, eggs etc. etc., into your burgers then you are not making hamburgers you are making meatloaf…patties. All a good burger needs is quality meat and some salt and pepper on the top while cooking.
1. The meat is everything. The meat should be freshly ground. I grind my own with my handy Kitchenaid grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. I use 7 bone in chuck (please cut the bones out before you grind), and round (London broil) or sirloin steak. If the 7bone in chuck doesn’t have enough fat for you, then pick up a package of beef short ribs for more fat content. Remember fat is flavor. A lean burger is a dry burger.
2. I go to neighborhood ethnic meat markets for meat. Here in San Francisco I go to the Mission district or the little Saigon neighborhood and buy my steaks for hamburger. The quality of the meat is good. Although, most places carry Standard and Select cuts, not Choice, and never Prime, you will save a couple of dollars per pound by shopping in areas where the clientele is more price conscious and less into a pleasant atmosphere and getting a latte while they shop.
3. Let your burger rest at least three minutes before you bite into it. Remember a burger is just a chopped steak designed to be eaten with your hands. By letting your burger rest you retain all that juicy goodness.
4. A thin burger is a wasted burger. Burgers should be at least a half a pound each. Anything less than a half a pound ends up being dry and tasteless. Unless, you make them the size of billiard balls, and then they would be called meatballs.
5. The best burger is a flame kissed grilled burger, but if your landlord is adverse to an open flame inside your apartment then use an indoor grill pan, and heat the grill pan until very hot before you slap that precious piece of meat on it. Putting a burger in a cold pan to cook is the same thing as steaming it. Hot grill pan, cold meat: tasty burger.
6. As I stated above, I only put salt and pepper on the outside of my burgers, but I use kick-ass salt and pepper. I use gray salt and coarsely cracked black pepper, think, steak au poivre. The cracked black peppercorns roast and release an intense earthy aroma, and when you are chewing the burger the pepper and salt kick up the flavor of any condiments you put on the buns.
7. Buns: brioche is my choice. I buy brioche buns ( I live in San Francisco, remember) split them, butter them and toast them in a medium hot pan. If you can not find brioche buns use Kaiser rolls, or slices of challah can work too.
If you follow my burger making regime, I guarantee you that the only time you will eat a fast food burger is when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere and your only alternative is eating your shoe, or a “clown” burger
Oh, last point, there is only one time when it is acceptable to eat a fast food “clown” burger, and that is when you are in a foreign country (outside of the U.S.A) and they call burgers things like: hamburgesas, or hambughars, or American style hamburgers.
You can always trust McDonalds to give you a safe, consistent, trustworthy product anywhere in the world. Use them like you would one of those iodine pills you put into suspect water while traveling.
Happy burger-ing, people.